More 'plain language' needed on hospital report card site

The Illinois Hospital Association's (IHA) Illinois Hospitals Caring for You website and the state's Hospital Report Card site have been touted as great examples of transparency and patient safety reporting. But even these sites could use some improvement--particularly when it comes to presenting information in "plain language," experts say.

Wording on the report card site, for example, is "hard to understand," says Diane Pinakiewicz, president of the Boston-based National Patient Safety Foundation, and Lisa McGiffert, of the Consumers Union Safe Patient Project.

Pinakiewicz offers up an example of how to translate phrasing into a more consumer-friendly format:

• What the site currently says: "Better processes of care may reduce mortality for heart attack, which represents better quality."
• A more clearly worded phrase would be: "When hospitals follow proven guidelines, patients get better and safer and, in this case, that can mean fewer people die from their heart attacks."

To learn more:
- read this Associated Press article
- check out this Chicago Tribune piece
- read this IHA press release